[TriLUG] Re: [GoLugTech] legal question
slitt at troubleshooters.com
Wed Mar 23 11:27:43 EST 2005
On Wednesday 23 March 2005 07:31 am, Marc M wrote:
> I have a 'technical' question that does not involve technology
> specifically, but I am hoping that someone on the list can help me. I
> have an employment possibility doing Red Hat Enterprise Linux and a
> lot of security stuff. I really want the job but they are making me
> sign this Stalinist contract to the effect that ANYTHING now or in the
> future (thoughts, concepts, software, plans, processes, RECORDINGS,
> images, etc.) -- is THEIRS. You wouldn't believe it if I had time to
> type everything. Basically I am a slave to them from now on.
> That's right, anything NOW OR IN THE FUTURE, on the job or off. So if
> you are configuring/writing/tweaking software all day, one would
> <think> that you would later be liable or subject to just about
> anything they want to claim. Think about it. Who doesn't learn and
> grow from one job to another? Who doesn't apply
> things/practices/habits/processes, from place A to place B?
> I beat out every other candidate from multiple agencies with this. I
> have come a LOOOOONG way in this process with the recruiter and I am
> formulating a letter to the effect of 'I am sorry but I am not signing
> my life away and if it's a dealbreaker so be it'. I also included
> some HUGE info to show that I am interested in 'educating' these
> recruiter types as to the restrictions they are placing on something
> that is suppossed to be 'open'. I am beginning to conclude that some
> people and opportunities are not worth fooling with, since they come
> with more headaches than they are worth.
> Does anyone know a qualified lawyer in the space of OSS that
> understands contracts, employment, and the GPL for starters? If
> someone can represent me in this matter I may actually be able to go
> forward and strike through terms and conditions. And have any of you
> run into similar situations? What did you do? Finally let me
> underscore that this goes WAAAY beyond the typical 'trade
> secrets'/proprietary information type verbiage, which I would consider
> normal and reasonable under most circumstances.
I've read the excellent responses on both GoLUG and TriLUG, and have learned
quite a bit of information that could prove valuable to me later on.
One thing that was not discussed so far is the damage signing such a contract
does to your future negotiating position. Take a noncompete or overly broad
NDA. Sign it, and your new employer knows for certain that you cannot work
for a competitor. When salary negotiation comes around, or when they ask you
to work 20 extra hours delivering backup tapes, their response to the
employee demand will be "where else are you going to go -- you can't work for
our competitors. What will you do, drive a cab?". Let's face it -- in any
negotiation, implicit is the employer threat of termination and the employee
threat of jumping ship.
The "everything you think belongs to us" clause is similar, in that they know
anyone hiring you away from them must be ready to duke it out in court, and
that reduces your options and thus your negotiating position.
Reminds me of the late 80's when I worked alongside a programmer from Taiwan,
whose greencard was sponsored by the (small) employer. She was the most
docile employee I've ever seen, because she knew that one hard negotiation
could send her back to Taiwan.
When the bank account is empty and the wolf is at the door, it's all too
tempting to just sign an abhorrent contract. Unfortunately, this usually just
trades today's money problems for tommorrows monitary disaster, complete with
a greatly weakened bargaining position and the spectre of casting aside all
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